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Maternal mortality 45% lower since 1990, according to new data

The mortality rate for women in childbirth has decreased worldwide over the past twenty years, but there are still too many preventable deaths.
Emily Hales, Deseret News Modified: May 7, 2014 at 4:25 pm •  Published: May 9, 2014

The number of women worldwide dying due to complications giving birth has fallen from 523,000 in 1990 to 289,000 in 2010, according to new data from the World Health Organization.

WHO attributes the increased survival rate for women in part to the presence of skilled health professionals at births. From 2005-2012, about 70 percent of births worldwide were assisted by a doctor, nurse or midwife, WHO reported. Still, in developing countries fewer than half of new mothers received professional medical help during childbirth.

The worldwide drop of 45 percent in maternal mortality shows improvement, but WHO had a goal to decrease the mortality rate by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. Nearly 800 women die in childbirth every day, access to health care is limited in the developing world and mortality rates have actually risen in some countries, including the United States.

In the U.S., WHO data indicate mortality rates have risen from 12 out of 100,000 live births in 1990 to 28 per 100,000 in 2013. The reasons for the rise aren't entirely clear, but the Centers for Disease Control reports that an increased number of pregnant women suffer from chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and heart disease. These medical conditions increase the risk of complications during pregnancy.

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